Hundreds of American-Israelis Rally to Stop Arab Workers from Entering their Judean Town

Hundreds of American-Israelis Rally to Stop Arab Workers from Entering their Judean Town

Efrat, Judea (Israel) – Hundreds of concerned residents of Efrat, a town with a large English-speaking population just south of Jerusalem, gathered early Sunday morning at 6:30am to protest the municipality’s decision to allow Palestinian Authority workers back into their community. The rally was attended by Efrat’s newly elected mayor, Dovi Shefler, along with many English speaking immigrants.

The demonstration came in response to news from the Efrat municipality that Palestinian Authority laborers would once again be permitted entry to work on closed construction sites within the town, reversing a ban that was put in place during last year’s Hamas-led war against Israel that began on October 7th.

Yishai Fleisher, a member of Efrat’s town council, was among the vocal protesters. “This is not complicated. We don’t want haters of Israel to enter our town,” he stated firmly. “Over 70 percent of these people [Arabs of Judea and Samaria] support the horrors of October 7th. It’s a danger to our lives. These folks are in favor of killing us. What are we building? Israel or Palestine? We want a different solution!”

Malkah Fleisher, a local activist, echoed these sentiments. “We are here to say one simple thing – this is not the way to save money. We are not going to hire cheap Arab labor to save a few shekels and risk the lives of our children. We cannot build Israel through the hands of those who want to destroy us. We will stand here, again and again. We will not be silent. We will not fall asleep!”

The protest drew support from prominent voices. Caroline Glick, the Israel-American journalist, author and Efrat resident declared, “We’re not here because we want to get up early. We need to bring our kids to school and go to work. We are here because we understand the significance of the hour. We are not obligated to hire people who want to kill us. We have to build our homes with the labor of people who don’t want to kill us. October 7th will happen again if we don’t stop it!! It’s in our hands to stop this madness!”

Efrat resident Kevin Ross emphasized, “Every single poll indicates that roughly 80% of the Arabs in Judea & Samaria support Hamas. Bringing in Arab workers into Efrat is sheer insanity. Arabs aren’t the only ones that know how to do construction. We should be insisting on importing and using more foreign labor. Security threats should be a red line that no builder or community is willing to cross.”

The move to allow Palestinian workers comes after a nine-month ban that followed the outbreak of the Hamas war launched on October 7th, 2023. Palestinian Authority workers were barred from entering Israel, even with authorized permits. The ban was lifted on December 20th, with the IDF Central Command authorizing 8,000-10,000 PA laborers to re-enter under strict security guidelines for Israeli businesses in Judea and Samaria.

The decision was deeply opposed at the time by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who demanded it be reversed, saying “The blood of the residents of the Judea and Samaria is not worth less than that of other Israeli citizens.”

For residents of Efrat, the war and its aftermath are still fresh and raw. A poll last March by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found 71% of Palestinians still support the October 7th massacre, in which 1,200 Israelis were brutally killed and 253 abducted by Hamas terrorists. This was up from 57% in a December 2023 poll.

Prior to the war, an estimated 165,000 Palestinian Authority Arabs worked in Israel and communities like Efrat, with 130,000 having legitimate permits. However, many attacks by Palestinian workers preceded the conflict, sowing widespread distrust.

While protesters understood the economic pressures driving the decision, many felt there were viable alternatives that didn’t compromise on security. “How many [Palestinians] are supposed to come in to work today? 18 – that’s it!” exclaimed Yishai Fleisher. “We can’t find 18 people who don’t want to kill us to come work in our town? This isn’t complicated!” Residents proposed importing foreign labor from populations that are friendly toward Israelis, like the Druze community. Though more costly than Palestinian labor, many felt it was a small price to pay to safeguard against terrorist infiltration and uphold their non-negotiable priority of protecting residents’ lives. With potential solutions available, protesters questioned why the municipality was gambling with their security in order to cut construction costs.

“Druze workers from the north are coming here to work. They don’t hate Israel, it’s a great solution. We have to think differently,” one resident remarked.

The municipality says the Palestinian workers will be restricted to closed construction sites only, with doubled security, tighter guard vetting, bans on Palestinian vehicles, and no freedom of movement through Efrat. However, protesters seemed unconvinced these measures would be sufficient.

As Caroline Glick proclaimed, “We are not obligated to hire people who want to kill us. We have to build our homes with the labor of people who don’t want to kill us.”

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